Skift Take

Social media is a two-way street that can just easily be used to share content as collect it, helping destination marketing organizations keep up with today's 24/7 marketing timetable.

Editor’s Note: Skift is publishing a series of interviews with CEOs of destination marketing organizations where we discuss the future of their organizations and the evolving strategies for attracting visitors. Read all the interviews as they come out here.


This continues our series of CEO interviews that began with online travel CEOs in Future of Travel Booking (now an e-book), and continued with hotel CEOs in the Future of the Guest Experience series (which is also an e-book).

Destinations’ marketing strategies have transformed radically over the past decade as digital and social media completely changed the makeup of their campaigns. Images, videos and stories can be shared around the world with the press of button, putting pressure on these organizations to craft more creative, engaging content than ever before.

As part of our most recent interview series, we asked the executives of destination marketing organizations about the role that social and digital media plays in their overall campaigns. The answers of four executives are below:

VisitDenmark CEO Jan Olsen

One of the determining factors for choosing a destination nowadays is other travelers’ experiences and recommendations of a given destination. That’s why we work a lot with user generated content, both on social media and other conventional communication channels.

A visitor’s personal recommendation is key, and we believe that has an ever-increasing importance in kickstarting a travel dream in the trigger phase, and influencing those who are looking for good advice in their travel research. Because the value chain is changing. Digital development is dictating where we need to be as a destination if we wish to influence a travel decision.

Cape Town Tourism CEO

As Cape Town Tourism, a method we have found to be very effective is harnessing the age old power of word of mouth – we’ve created strong social media platforms to allow visitors to share their experiences, which are then read by a multitude of potential visitors; and we also use other social sharing platforms like TripAdvisor as listening tools.

We’ll pick up on conversations the various markets are having about the destination and then create content on our blog and social media platforms that speak to what they’re searching for.

VisitBritain CEO Sally Balcombe

We did an amazing piece of work with Pinterest in which we were involved in the launch of their new place pin. We’re the only tourism board involved in that.
Is that the most important channel? No but it is an exploding channel. All of the social media channels are growing. In some of the emerging markets, we might still be in print. It’s appropriate in that marketplace.

Los Angeles Tourism Board CEO Ernie Wooden Jr.

There are several important marketing platforms that we use and we try to take an integrated approach. The obvious one is our social media platforms, which are such a powerful way of getting the word out about Los Angeles and what’s going on here. We have a whole social media team in Beijing, for example, that deals with that part of the world.

We’ve learned the importance of social media in China. We have a very large footprint with about 1.6 million friends on Sino Weibo and a growing following on WeChat. The Chinese market is very engaged in social media so we spend a lot of time thinking about how to engage them.

German National Tourism Board Petra Hedorfer

We find that more and more travelers rely on information from non-traditional outlets such as bloggers and social media influencers. We are putting a heavy emphasis on working with these groups in order to reach consumers via blogs and social media channels.

I believe that social media makes us all ambassadors for our country. I hope we are convinced of the beauty of our country and there is still potential to tap. We asked young students to talk about Germany, to share the best cafes and hotspots, and to provide user-generate content.


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Tags: ceo interviews, executives, fodm

Photo credit: Petra Hedorfer is the CEO of the National German Tourism Board. German Convention Bureau / Flickr

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